An Interview with the General Authority for Statistics in Saudi Arabia on the web portal and statistical database

General Authority for Statistics in Saudi Arabia, 28 Nov 2019

This blog is part of a series of blogs that the Arab Development Portal is conducting with the Arab National Statistical Offices to provide updates on the reforms and plans taking place at the NSOs.
 

There is no doubt that the traditional reporting platforms no longer match the aspirations of internet users, whose percentage—in the Arab region— more than doubled since 2010, reaching 49.5% by the end of 2018, up from 24% in 2010[1]. As such, it became necessary for National Statistical Offices (NSOs) to develop open electronic platforms and statistical databases that adopt the latest technological tools for browsing, extracting and data visualization.

Also, traditional means do not meet the statistical challenges set by the 2030 Agenda, which emphasizes the importance of developing an inclusive monitoring and accountability framework to monitor the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the national, regional and global levels. It is therefore important to leverage on the technological progress and develop monitoring tools for SDGs indicators, establish national reporting platforms and update the already existing ones.
 

Although all NSOs in the Arab region have websites, only 11 statistical offices offer an online database and the majority of the offices continue to present data either in the form of simplistic static tables, posted as an image on the website, or statistical yearbooks disseminating annual or quarterly data in the form of PDF or excel files. Hence, the need arises to improve the weak infrastructure of the online dissemination of official statistics in the Arab region.
 

In fact, the General Authority for Statistics in Saudi Arabia (GASTAT) is among the few Arab NSOs that have a web portal and an online database, allowing an easy access to data and information. In line with its efforts to support the dissemination of high-quality data, research and evidence-based decision making, the GASTAT is developing a new portal to provide accurate, comprehensive and credible updated statistical products and services.

 

In an exclusive interview with the Arab Development Portal, Mr. Raed Al-Qahtani, Director of the Department of Content and Electronic Publishing at the General Authority for Statistics in Saudi Arabia, spoke about the efforts undertaken by the GASTAT to improve user experience in accessing official data through the portal and database, as well as the future plans in developing a national platform for SDGs monitoring and reporting.

 

1. GASTAT is currently developing a new web portal - what features and updates should we expect? And when will you launch the new web portal?


The General Authority for Statistics is developing the web portal to meet the needs of its users. The main objective of this development process is to provide high-quality data and facilitate access to the GASTAT content, in addition to improving the classification of the website compared to other statistical offices’ websites regionally and internationally. Below is the list of features that the new GASTAT web portal will include:

 

Develop the statistical content and tools:

-Increase the statistical content in the main interface of the website.

- Add new pages related to international and national indicators.

- Highlight the results of the statistical products and their indicators and the most visited products.

- Display the stages of statistical work.

- Improve the statistical classifications.

- Update the statistical calendar.

- Display the statistical terms and equations used.

- Link the statistical products with the database.

 

Develop the data visualization tools:

- Download files in the format of API, XML, Excel, PDF.

- Display the graphs in an interactive manner.

- Add different statistical indicators.

- Download methodologies.
 

Improve the communication about GASTAT events:

- Add GASTAT’s activities and events.

- Add GASTAT’s awards, initiatives and projects.

- Add GASTAT’s future events.
 

Update some of the e-services:

- Interactive presentation of the government services directory.

- Update the request of statistical information service.

- Add a registration option to the website.

- Add the live chat service to the customer service.

- Activate the voice listening service.

 

GASTAT is planning to launch the new portal at the beginning of 2020.

 

2. GASTAT prepared a statistical report on the current status of the SDGs in Saudi Arabia, is there a plan to develop a national platform for SDGs monitoring and reporting?


There is still no plan to establish an independent national platform for SDGs monitoring and reporting. The General Authority for Statistics is the entity in charge of statistical affairs, and responsible for the dissemination of the SDG indicators. As such, we are currently working on developing a platform as part of the GASTAT’s portal based on the international standards.

 

3. What are the most visited pages on the web portal? And what are the most downloaded topics?


The social topics that are of interest to families and individuals attract the majority of the visitors and are the most downloaded topics on the web portal.
 

4. Does GASTAT currently have dynamic data visualization tools? If yes, what features does it offer?

The General Authority for Statistics has dynamic tools for displaying data and statistical products. Indicators are displayed in a graphical form according to the type of each indicator. In addition, data by region are displayed in the form of an interactive map.

 

5. GASTAT produces several infographics and videos that are published on the web portal as well as on social media platforms.  Do users interact more with the visual products or with the traditional statistical reports?

 

Infographic designs that contain statistical data are attracting many users based on their background. In general, users interact more with social statistics, while economists and experts are more interested in economic bulletins that are advertised through social media platforms.

 

6. What challenges do you face in managing the web portal and database?

A big part of the portal’s management has to do with automatically linking it to the database, which is subject to constant data updates. This is very challenging when it comes to managing the website and avoiding unexpected technical problems.

 

7. What are GASTAT’s future plans regarding the online dissemination of statistics?

We aim to add the Authority's website on the global search engines and to be part of the international web portals’ classifications. In addition, we are establishing new partnerships related to electronic projects with several private and governmental institutions.

 

 


[1] ITU World Telecommunication. 2019. ICT Indicators Database. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx [Accessed 20 November 2019].

 

 


Raed Al-Qahtani is the Director of the Department of Content and Electronic Publishing at the General Authority for Statistics in Saudi Arabia.


The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views the Arab Development Portal.

 

General Authority for Statistics in Saudi Arabia General Authority for Statistics in Saudi Arabia
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